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Liberals trying to pass two more priority bills before Christmas break

The minority Liberals appear to have a better shot at Bill C-3, which won unanimous approval in principle on Dec. 9 with support from all parties.

December 10, 2021  The Canadian Press

It’s one down and two to go with only a week left for the federal Liberal government to win parliamentary approval of priority legislation before an extended Christmas break.

The government has managed to win approval for one of three bills it wants to be passed before Parliament takes a six-week holiday break on Dec. 17.

But it’s uncertain the other two will make it through all the legislative hoops in time to meet the government’s self-imposed deadline.

The fate of Bill C-2 — which would create targeted support programs for sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and a new lockdown benefit for individuals thrown out of work due to the pandemic — seems particularly iffy.

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The minority Liberals appear to have a better shot at Bill C-3, which won unanimous approval in principle on Dec. 9 with support from all parties.

That two-pronged bill would create 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated employees and create new criminal offences aimed at cracking down on harassment or intimidation of health-care workers who have faced anti-vaccination or anti-abortion protests outside hospitals and clinics.

A third priority bill — banning the discredited practice of conversion therapy aimed at altering a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity — was fast-tracked without debate or votes through the House last week and through the Senate earlier this week. It received royal assent on on Dec. 8 and is now the law of the land.

Bills C-2 and C-3 are currently before the Commons finance committee and human resources committee respectively. Neither committee has a deadline for scrutinizing the bills and returning them to the Commons for final debate and votes.

Even if the committees expedite their work and the Commons approves C-2 and C-3 by the end of next week, they must still get through the Senate before they’re enacted.

Two Senate committees have launched a pre-study of C-3, which should help speed that bill’s passage through the upper house once it arrives there. But no similar pre-study has been started on C-2.